Massage has been used for thousands of years – dating back to 2500 BC – to treat a number of psychological and physical ailments. Ancient Chinese physicians would prescribe massage for diseases and injuries. Fast-forward to present day, and though the field of massage has broadened, no technology has come close to replacing skillful therapists. Techniques from massage therapy have been incorporated into physical therapy and sports recovery, proving that massage is an essential ingredient in athletic recovery and readiness.
Sports massage is a specialized series of techniques that aid in sports pathologies, stimulating muscle repair, and promoting a sense of calm. Sports massage can be broken up into even more subsets, and it is crucial to discuss with a therapist which form is best for you. Massage therapists are educated and trained on each form, and the techniques utilized can vary significantly between sessions based on what your goals are.
Ever get the jitters before a race? (Who hasn’t?) Psychological stressors such as performance anxiety lead to your fight-or-flight response being continuously activated, resulting in physical effects such as tremors, hyperventilation, and increased blood pressure. It’s easy to imagine how these physical responses can lead to an increased risk of injury. You can get ahead of the pack on race day by doing your “homework” with a massage. One study on pre-competition massage found that athletes who received a pre-competition massage with relaxation as the goal ended up with a decrease in blood pressure.(13)
Massage interventions have also been proven to increase range of motion.(14) One study even demonstrated that adults who received a 5-minute massage between strength tests recovered faster, fatigued less, and performed better on subsequent testing compared to stretching and passive rest.(15) Techniques including friction have also been associated with improved circulation and cutaneous blood flow. A case study on a runner with chronic runner’s knee was able to return to run a full season after undergoing massage for IT band release after traditional methods failed.(16)
Before your next race or following a hard workout, talk to one of Fixt Movement’s massage therapists to discuss what massage would be best for you based on your training regimen.
By Fixt Intern Jodie Davis
13 Jerrilyn A. Cambron, Jennifer Dexheimer, and Patricia Coe. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. February 2006, 12(1): 65-70. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.12.65.
14 Barlow, A et al. “Effect of Massage of the Hamstring Muscle Group on Performance of the Sit and Reach Test.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 38.3 (2004): 349–351. PMC. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.
15 Brummitt, Jason. “The Role of Massage in Sports Performance and Rehabilitation: Current Evidence and Future Direction.” North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy : NAJSPT 3.1 (2008): 7–21. Print.
16 Pettitt, Robert, and Angela Dolski. “Corrective Neuromuscular Approach to the Treatment of Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome: A Case Report.” Journal of Athletic Training 35.1 (2000): 96–99. Print.